A college degree is a massive investment, but over a dozen universities in New York State have made the list of the worst in the United States. Three of them are located right here in Central New York.

Return on Investment

According to Bankrate, college tuition has risen by 153 percent in the last 40 years. However, it feels like prices exploded since the early-aughts.

University Of California Students Protest 32 Percent Fee Hike
Photo Credit - David McNew / Getty Images

For example, when I was applying for colleges back in 2006, tuition for Sarah Lawrence College was $36,088 a year - according to an old CNN Money report of the most expensive colleges at the time.

Sarah Lawrence's current tuition for the 2023-2024 academic year? $63,128 per year. That's a 75% increase!

As for why college tuition is rising so rapidly, a report out of Champlain College claims the price is rising to reflect all the additional "amenities and programs" campuses are now offering.

Either way, the cost of obtaining a college degree is growing out of reach for many Americans.

Read More: NY College Crowned Nation's Best "Value for Money" University

A new report from the Herald Weekly looked into the most expensive colleges in the country to see if they really are worth the investment. By comparing their tuition costs to their graduation rates and the average income of their graduates, the outlet determined the campuses that have the worst return on investment.

Several schools to make the list were pretty popular New York universities.


Herald Weekly explained that their ranking was to help prospective college students make wise decisions with their money and to enhance their chances of obtaining a successful career.

In recent years, some colleges with prestigious names have garnered a reputation for their poor return on investment due to their sky-high tuition and low graduation rates.

Before we go on to reveal the 14 New York colleges to make the list, please note Townsquare Media isn't calling these universities the worst in the nation. We are simply reporting on a roundup from Herald Weekly, who has never been affiliated with our company. Please direct all criticisms and concerns to them.

The 50+ Worst Colleges in America

First up on the list was Hartwick College in Oneonta. The outlet claimed the institution has a graduation rate of 58% and added, "Those who do complete their programs on time only end up earning an average of $48,500 per year after spending $48,120 on their yearly tuition."


Next up was Long Island University, which only graduates 32% of its class. The school has also found itself in hot water for allegedly enacting "policies that restrict free speech."

Syracuse University bowed on the list, but the reason why wasn't about its graduation or tuition rates. According to the outlet, the school ranks poorly for free speech:

Students have been expelled for skits and investigated for blogs. It’s really a wonder why the school has the first amendment written across one of its buildings.

Vassar College in Poughkeepsie was next because its tuition is more than the salaries of most of its graduates. Tuition is roughly $57,000 while most graduates apparently make less than $55k a year.

Up next was the tiny Cazenovia College, which has an undergraduate population of under 1,000 students. Despite that, tuition is apparently $46k a year.

St. Lawrence followed closely behind and, much like Vassar, the return of investment was lackluster with tuition amounting to $55k and graduates making an average salary of $50k a decade after collecting their diploma.

Up next was Hobart and William Smith Colleges, located in Geneva, NY. Said the outlet:

More than 2,300 undergrads pass through Hobart and William Smith Colleges every year, but they’re paying a pretty penny for the privilege – and at what cost? Well, $55,255 per year, to be exact.

Following that was Wells College in Aurora, which also sees a disproportionate balance between tuition and average salaries a decade post-graduation. It costs over $40k to go there, but graduates claim they're only making around $35k.

Next up was Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, which boasts a graduation rate of 89 percent. However, the article claims:

In this school’s case, they made the list because of their annual cost of attendance compared to average annual earnings ten years after the fact. They charge over $50,000 per year to earn about $46,000.

Following Skidmore was Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The school has faced growing criticism for several issues, says the Herald, including being among the universities that restrict free speech the most. Additionally, it boasts a graduation rate of roughly 57 percent and those that do graduate take on an average debt load of $32,600.

The State University of New York, located in Potsdam, appeared on the list due to students getting a return of investment that burns a $30k hole in their pockets.

Next up was Trump University, which is now defunct. Said the Herald:

Trump University was launched in 2005 and aimed at adults who were ready to make a difference in their lives by learning the ins and outs of real estate from someone they thought they could trust.

But the institution was troubled from the very beginning, starting with the fact it used “university” in its name without obtaining a license from the New York State Education Department. The “school” wound up being shut down and paying out more than $25 million to those who were duped by the operation.

Sadly, the majority of schools that made the top 5 were located in New York State.

The Worst Schools of All...

Despite New York State bragging about having some of the best schools in the country, the Herald has ruled the Empire State is home to the worst and second-worst schools of all.

iStock via Getty Images
iStock via Getty Images

In second place of the Herald Weekly's roundup was the College of New Rochelle due to giving students an apparent disastrous ROI. Apparently, the school only graduates 29% of its class and those who go on to graduate make roughly $40k a year.  Additionally, students take on an average debt load of $30,000, but about 10 percent of them can't make payments on time.

Read More: These New York Law Schools Produce Nation's Top-Earning Grads

And, finally, in first place was Yeshivas Novominsk in Brooklyn. Said the outlet:

If almost anyone who applies gets accepted, that's almost always a bad sign. That's just the case at Yeshivas Novominsk in Brooklyn — they have a 95% acceptance rate. Then, only 2% of those who get in actually leave with a degree, and 98% of the students drop out before that. The school has such a bad reputation that it even earned  itself the name "The dropout factory." Yikes.

With college tuition rising by thousands every year despite stagnant salaries and record inflation, do you think college is no longer a mandatory step to elevate your success in the workforce?

Let's not get into the debate of student loan forgiveness...

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